I could see the look of horror in my wife’s face the second I crawled out of bed at the crack of noon. 

“Now, you mustn’t panic,” she said, easing herself to relative safety on the other side of the kitchen island. “Above all, you’ve got to stay calm.” 

“Whazza?” I babbled. It’s how I greet anyone, including inanimate objects, I find in the kitchen first thing in the day. “Whooza wadda fregga stennit?” 

“We can overcome this,” said the blurry, wife-shaped object I spied through one squinted eye. “There are alternatives. You’ve just got to keep your head.” 

“Fuzzy wunnit!” I insisted, flinging my arm toward the empty coffee mug to emphasize this important point. “Fuzzy wunnit cawwwwvee cubba!” 

I think my point was made. But the horrifying truths revealed themselves soon enough in spite of my eloquent orations. Somehow, through some malignant flaw in the cosmic machinery that constructs our days, I had forgotten to make coffee the previous evening. 

It was the end of the world, in other words. 

That wife-shape could appeal to calm and reason all she wanted to, but I knew the truth of the situation: These were end times. That empty coffee mug sitting so fecklessly on the kitchen island was the seventh seal heralding black oblivion and the end of all good things. That pale horse had galloped into our kitchen to bring on the doom and nothing could be done but to await the cleansing fires of the apocalypse! 

That wife-ish looking thing says I exaggerate when I’m out of coffee, but no assertion in the history of the universe has ever been so wrong. 

I know what you’re thinking, wrongheaded readers. “But Mike. So, you don’t have your regular coffee. Surely there is some substitute that will get you by. A jar of instant, perhaps? A coffee pod, or perhaps a nice cup of tea?” 

Apostates, the lot of you! 

You see, the thing is, a few years ago I switched to cold-brew coffee, which I’ve come to conclude is the only form in which coffee should be allowed to exist. And it’s very simple. Once a week, I fill a small vat with a calculated balance of ground coffee and water and let it sit for 12 hours. By the time I get up the following morning (ish) all I have to do is drain the pure liquid coffee into a jar and, voila! I have enough delicious Joe juice to last for a week or more, and after that, preparing that first cup of the day can be done even when 95% of the brain is still abed. 

It’s a beautiful system. Elegant. Efficient. And the whole thing totally falls apart if you’re dimwitted like me and forget to prepare that week’s worth of coffee because you got distracted by some hilarious YouTube video featuring people getting hit in their groins. 

Sure, I have jars of instant somewhere. Sure, there may be a few Keurig pods floating around and probably even some basic machine coffee. But, what? You expect me to work out those complex matters on my own first thing in the day? Might as well get me hammered on Boone’s Farm, spin me in a circle a hundred times and then ask me to solve calculus problems. 

That foggy wife-like-being knows all this, so as I lumbered around the kitchen like Frankenstein’s monster lurching across a meadow, she did her very best to assuage my agony before I started weeping and breaking stuff. 

“Here,” she said, holding out a strange glass vessel. “I found some grounds in the cupboard and made you a cup of French press.” 

“Fuzzy wunnit?” I inquired. “Fezzy wicket bubba dunnit?” 

Now, I’ve become completely hooked on cold-brew coffee and any alternative tastes to me like tobacco spittings, but I took the mug gratefully and drank. 

Caffeine splashed down in my blood stream, revved its engine and tore off toward my brain, heart and nerve endings. 

“Fuzzy wunnit!” I declared, and as the fog lifted a little: “Coffee good! I thanks helpful wife-shaped creature.” 

It’s funny, really. I know plenty of hardcore addicts who, when the supply of their drug of choice runs dry, are offered weaker alternatives. When the heroin addict is out of product and spiraling into withdrawal, a well-meaning friend might offer leftover roxies or even Imodium to help quell the cravings. An alcoholic might be given a beer or two when the whiskey is gone and the shakes are bad. 

I’m not comparing coffee to booze or dope, mind you, but damn if it isn’t an addiction. When a hardcore coffee drinker finds himself without, there is genuine discomfort and — let’s face it — the agony and terror of the eternally damned. 

I will never understand you weirdos who eschew coffee in the morning and get by with things like soda or water or — and I’m not even sure this is legal — nothing at all! 

How do you do it? WHY do you do it, when the precious coffee bean exists with the sole purpose of easing your sleep-addled brain into the bright and annoying world of the wide awake? 

Later in the day, a cup of coffee might be as much ritual as anything else, but the first cup of the day? It’s pure chemistry. It’s survival. It’s fuel for a machine that won’t run very well without it, if at all. 

All I’m saying is that if Wife Thing hadn’t come forth with that cup of French pressed tobacco drool when she did, I’d be dead in a heap on my kitchen floor and the whole world — nay, the endless expanse of the universe itself! — would never have survived the calamity. 

And they say I exaggerate . . .


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